Monday, March 30, 2009

Goat Milk?

Two weeks since my last post and so much has happened. Should I tell you about running out of tortillas, cinnamon, ketchup, sugar? Or about Charlie's quest for locally grown chilies on his trip to L.A.? Or about finding a local dairy when visiting my in-laws in Bend, Oregon? Or my newest recipe for fruit crumble (better than crisp and WAY better than cobbler) easily made from all local ingredients? Or should I describe my attempt to get goat milk out here in rural America? Yes, that's it. I'll tell you about the goat milk. Here goes:

We were out of milk which really isn't such a big deal for us because we don't drink much milk. But I'd heard of a couple of people around here that have goats for milking and we've been on the goat milk circuit before and really liked it. I made cheese from the milk and Charlie has an affinity for goat milk lattes. He has this belief, based on nothing in particular, that they will soon catch on and thier popularity will sweep the nation. In Charlie's world you will be able to walk into any Starbuck's in the country and order a venti goaty mocha, hold the whip. But I digress...

We were out of milk and I had asked about goat milk sellers at the local food co-op and found two names. I called the first and she said she didn't have any to spare. Too many buyers for her little herd to supply any more. Who knew goat milk was so popular? Maybe Charlie is on to something. So I called the second number and an elderly woman answered the phone. Her name is Kay. She tells me that she does in fact have some milk to spare ("Honey, I milk twice a day. Of course I have some to spare,"). Great. So where does she live? How can I get out to where the milk lives? "We're up Sutton Creek." OK, and where is that? "Hon, we're near the dump." OK, and where is that? "Well, you know where the land fill is? Instead of going right, you go left. There are some pine trees, but you can't see the house from the road. The dogs will let me know when you're here and I'll just walk out to meet you." I asked a few more question that ellicited the same basic information so I just stopped asking. I figured Charlie knew where the land fill was. He's been there before. So I just left it at that.

Charlie was able to tell me where Sutton Creek Road is, and how to get to the land fill. I was sure that I could make it from there. (I was wrong.) I drove out of town dangerously close to Luke's nap time with just a little bit of gas but how far could she be, really? Thirty minutes later I'd located the dump, driven up and down Sutton Creek Road twice, coaxed Luke back from dream land by handing him an entire apple and burned through more gas than I was comfortable with. So I turned around and headed home. I still don't have any goat milk to show for the adventure. We're coasting on the last of a gallon of milk from a Central Oregon dairy that we found the next weekend. I'm too embarrased to call Kay back. She had such faith in my ability to find her house. She'd be so disappointed if I told her how miserably I'd failed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Charlie's Rightness

I've been feeling like I don't have much to write when it comes to describing this year's local eating lenten experience. It seems (knock on wood) too easy this time around. We've found a source for wheat, which took up a lot of time and effort last year. We have plenty of salt, thank goodness. Last year we took a trip to the ocean to make our own but this year I don't think we'll need to worry because we're all stocked up. And if we did run out, I think we'd purchase from a Utah source (that's the closest salt seller I've found) without any guilt. It's a toss-up, evironmentally speaking, between driving across Oregon to get salt for one family versus purchasing Utah salt that likely came on a truck carrying salt for a hundred or more families (plus all sorts of other things). We have frozen fruits and veggies from Stahlbush Farms (from Corvallis) which we can purchase from Bella Main Street Market. Plenty of frozen meat, a good supply of honey, and some random bits of things that we've saved throughout the year. So it really doesn't seem too difficult this time around.

I was lamenting my lack of hard-core-ed-ness to Charlie, and how wretched it is that I can't find much in the way of "trials and tribulations" to share with y'all when he so wisely said, "well, isn't that the point of all of this?" He pointed out that the whole purpose of this lenten exercise (and last year's exercise, too) is to get to a point where we've done our homework and it all comes pretty easy. To get to a place where eating locally isn't one hardship after another, but rather just the way we do things and no big deal doing it.

He's right, of course. And he'll be thrilled that I've admitted his rightness. Right here. And in public.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

We were traveling again last weekend. So the travel exception was the rule, again. So I'm feeling kind of like a lame-o as far as the local eats are concerned. And we were visiting my in-laws in Bend who are the sort of very considerate people who find out that you like dark chocolate and good port and greet you at the door with both. What's a girl to do? I had to be gracious. The port was from the U.S. and the chocolate was...well, chocolate is never from the U.S. And we indulged in big mugs of coffee every morning, with lumps of sugar just because we could. So I can't even pretend that we did our best to stay local while we were away. The best I can do is to say that I was very conscious of the fact that I was eating far-flung foods and vowed to honestly get back on the bandwagon as soon as we rolled back into our home town.

We're back now and here's what we've had for dinner: a curry (of sorts, using spices from the cupboard) made of local turnips, potatoes, and onions. I made some oat groats in a way that sort of resembled brown rice (one cup groats to 1 1/4 cup water, simmered until H2O is absorbed) and served the vegetables over it. Very local. And pretty humble. But pretty good, really. And we have yet to truly suffer any discomfort during this Lenten season. When the dried chili peppers are gone, that will be a different story.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Exceptions to the Rule

Sorry for the delay in posting. We were out of town last weekend and as I type these words I'm remembering that I forgot to mention a couple of exceptions to our All-Oregon rule. "Oh, sure." you're thinking, "they sound so hard-core and then come the exceptions." Maybe you're right, but at least we're trying. I firmly believe that if we each simply try to be better (about anything, but especially the environment), the imperfect group effort will have tremendous results. So we make our efforts just hard-core enough to make us feel like we're making a difference, but not so exhausting that we give up. A delicate balance.

We have an exception for travel. If you've ever driven between Baker City and Portland and found yourself in Biggs having forgotten to eat lunch in Pendleton, you'll know the uncomfortable position of having to decide between another two (plus) hours of hunger or a meal of tater tots and iceberg salad. This exception allows us the unenviable choice. And the ability to enjoy a meal with family when we're visiting.

We have also decided that we each get an excpetion of our choice. Both Charlie and I are closely guarding our personal exceptions at this point. I know that Charlie is considering cabbage as his exception because St. Patrick's Day is coming up and he wants to be true to his Irish roots. I also know that he is very nearly terrified of running out of tortillas and not being able to make them himself (he has had at least one burrito every day since I have known him), so maybe he'll go for store-bought tortillas. I'm still weighing my options. Last year I went with flax oil from Washington state and Charlie's exception was Tillamook ice cream.
The milk in the ice cream was local, but the chocolate and peanut butter swirled around in there, not-so-much.

But anyway, here's to just (imperfectly) doing it!